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A Conversation with Supernatural Horror Author Brian Moreland: Sneak Peek at The Devil’s Woods!

I’ve got a second interview with one of my FAVORITE writers!! Sit back in your seat and take some time to read this fabulous, mind-picking (promise no ice picks used) conversation with supernatural horror author Brian Moreland (www.brianmoreland.com). He wrote my favorite book of 2011, which I reviewed here (CLICK HERE to read DEAD OF WINTER review and our FIRST INTERVIEW!)….then keep reading for our second interview. I promise, it’s worth it…why?

I promise he is not as scary as his books!! We’ve got some great discussion ranging on how religion and horror connect to cupcakes, so I promise it’s deep AND fun. We also get a…gasp, SNEAK PEEK at the opening chapter of this third novel, The Devil’s Woods!!! Don’t miss that as you get further into the interview. And after the blog, Brian and I will be chatting below in the comments section and we’d love for your to join us or post your thoughts.  Pull up that blanket around your chin, lock your door, and open your mind. Let’s get to the interview!

Intro

Welcome Back, Brian!! I am so happy to visit with you again and hear how 2012 is treating you! I hope your novel, Dead of Winter, is having huge success. I can’t wait to talk about what else is coming up the pike for you (besides a canoe, which would be fun though wouldn’t it?)!

Thanks, Erin, it’s great to be back. And I love paddling in canoes. The year 2012 has already started out as a good one. I completed my third novel The Devil’s Woods in February, so I already feel like I’ve accomplished one of my New Year’s resolutions. Now if I can just get myself to stay on my exercise routine. Maybe when it gets warmer this spring, I can get on the lake near my home and get in some kayaking or go canoeing on one of our Texas rivers.

Q1:  How has the feedback for Dead of Winter been and what new things did you learn about your writing from publishing it and from reader feedback?

A1:  Feedback from over a dozen reviewers, as well as a plethora of readers, has been mind-blowingly positive. We’ll say over 90% of people have thoroughly enjoyed reading Dead of Winter. One reviewer told me the book gave her nightmares and said she couldn’t sleep with her back to the door. She kept dreaming about the demons in my book. I took that as a great compliment since my goal was to write books that scare the be-Jesus out of readers. What I’ve learned from a variety of reviews is that some readers have different tastes than mine. I stand behind every chapter I wrote and wouldn’t change a thing about the book. I’m quite proud of it.

Q2: How much time did it take you to delve into the research needed for the historical content of this book? Where did the idea come from and how did you research it?

A2:  I did about two years of research while writing Dead of Winter. The idea came from reading a non-fiction book about legendary monsters of ancient cultures. One chapter talked about a demon spirit that stalked the woods every winter and terrorized the Great Lakes tribes in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario. I found those native campfire tales fascinating, so I built a story around a supernatural killer stalking a fur-trading fort in Ontario and turning people into cannibals. I love mixing real history with fantasy.

The entire novel is set in Canada in 1870, so all my research was done through reading history books on the fur trade in 19th Century Canada and using the heck out of Google to find websites about the history of the Jesuits, Algonquin and Ojibwa Indian legends, and the early settlers of Canada. I even read books on cannibalism to understand this mental disease which really exists, even today. Also, because one of my main characters, Father Xavier, is a Catholic exorcist, I read a lot of books on exorcism by living priests who still perform exorcisms today. I learned so much that I could probably exorcise demons myself. So if you have a demon that needs to be exorcised, just email me. Kidding, of course.

Q3:  How much of Dead of Winter is based on fact or legend as it is surrounded by your imaginative characters and plot?

A3:  While indeed a work of fiction, I wanted this book to feel real. Throughout the story I interweave several facts I pulled from history books and an interview I did with a descendent from a Canadian Ojibwa tribe. I learned that back in the 1800s, the Algonquin tribes migrated every winter because of their superstition of this winter demon spirit that wandered the woods feeding on humans. Some tribes even performed a ceremonial dance to ward off this evil spirit, which I included in the book. This legend also spooked the white fur traders, like the Hudson’s Bay Company, who lived in isolated forts all across Canada and traded with the Indians [First Nations to be politically correct, but back in the 1800s they were called Indians or “heathens”].FortPendletonis a fictitious fort named after one my characters, a tycoon by the name of Master Avery Pendleton. When the mysterious killings start plaguing the colonists living within his fort, Pendleton hires Tom Hatcher to solve the case. Tom teams up with an Ojibwa tracker and shaman, Anika Moonblood. She doesn’t believe the killer is a man or animal, but something much more terrifying. In the book, everyone in the neighboring Ojibwa tribe is spooked by the stalker out in the woods.

 As I researched this legendary evil spirit even deeper, I discovered an article about a real isolated fort inQuebecwhere all the colonists went crazy and turned cannibal. In the late 1700s, a Jesuit priest who visited this fort documented the case in his journal, describing the deranged colonists as possessed by the devil. This is all factual and documented by the Catholic Church. I also did extensive research on the history of frontier life of Canada in the 1800s. During the long winter months out in the wilderness, cannibalism became a way of survival for isolated villages that ran out of food. And sometimes soldiers would arrive at a fort to find that everyone was dead except one man, who survived by eating the others. So, a lot of this book is based on real facts. As you reach the end of the book, you’ll see that my imagination just went wild.

 Q4:  The bloody circular symbol on your book cover for Dead of Winter, and mentioned in your book, really intrigued me. Around the time I was reading your book, my 8-year-old was drawing the same symbol in pretty colors all over multiple pieces of artwork. It had to be a coincidence, but it certainly did freak me out a little. Can you explain about the symbol and why symbols as a whole have seeped into many fiction novels of this decade? (And please tell me that my daughter drawing those symbols was coincidental!!)

A4:  You just gave me chicken skin. Symbols have been around since man first started engraving hieroglyphics on stone. Symbols are very powerful because their meanings bypass the conscious mind and into the unconscious mind. If they are given a special meaning and show up over and over in art, teachings, architecture, or propaganda, that meaning begins to become a part of people’s belief systems. Think about the holy cross, the sitting Buddha, or the swastika and how those symbols have influenced the masses. The spiral is an ancient symbol that has been used in many cultures from native tribes in America and Africa to pagans in the Gaelic cultures of Ireland. I took the liberty of using that symbol to be a part of the mystery in my book. Your daughter might be highly intuitive or maybe she saw it on TV or in a painting. Sometimes the sun is painted like a spiral. It’s probably just coincidental.

Q5:  I loved your female characters in Dead of Winter, especially Anika. How do you develop your characters with such intricate personalities?

A5:  I love Anika and Willow, myself. Both women were really fun to write. I did my best to make them complex as they secretly battle one another over Inspector Tom Hatcher. Part of developing character personalities is spending over a year with them. They usually start off as sketches of people with a few traits and a little back history to get me started. The more I write my characters in scenes and see how they respond with other characters and the dangerous situations I put them in, I begin to see who these people really are and what they’re made of. It’s amazing what you learn about a person when you put them face to face with a serial killer or the devil. Characters like Father Xavier rise to the occasion, while other characters succumb to their dark sides.

It may take a few drafts before I come up with the complete back story of the character. For instance, the book’s villain, Avery Pendleton, plays the violin and fiddle, and has a red violin that he made with his grandfather when he was a boy. All of that detail and back story got added two years after I started writing the book. Sometimes I feel like a character needs more depth, and I will keep adding details about who this person is–their likes, how they dress, beliefs, and temperaments–as I go through a number of drafts. I usually write more than the reader needs to know and cut a lot of the back story to keep the main story tight. In Shadows in the Mist, I had intricate back story for every soldier in Lt. Jack Chambers’ platoon. I knew their birthdays and hometowns and childhood events that shaped their lives. That helped me see them as people rather than just characters. Most of that back story got cut, but the main story is about Jack Chambers and everyone else is in the story as a supporting character.

I might change character names half a dozen times before I end up with just the right one. I believe names define a character, think Hannibal Lecter. That name just sounds menacing. For my serial killer in Montreal that was Tom Hatcher’s nemesis, I thought long and hard as I came up with the name Gustave Meraux, the Cannery Cannibal, and his complex history. He was another character who evolved over many drafts until I felt like he could just walk right off the page and into nightmares. For me, creating characters is the most fun part of writing.

Q6:  I’m a lover of Native American fiction, non-fiction, and culture. Does their history and culture intrigue you? Why or why not? How do you feel their culture and legends impact us today in America?

A6:  I’m a lover of Native American culture because it’s part of our country’s history. I’ve also studied shamanism, witnessed shamanic pipe ceremonies, and endured the sweltering heat of sweat lodges while a shaman chanted. The native tribes of the previous centuries were deeply connected with the land and animals and the spirit world, at least in their beliefs. I find their legends fascinating and very translatable to writing horror fiction. My next novel, The Devil’s Woods, also deals with a Native Canadian mystery, although this one is more from my imagination than from historical fact. I don’t know how their culture impacts us today in America. For the most part, I think our tribal ancestors have been pushed aside and now they mostly represent sporting team mascots and casinos. If you go to places like New Mexico and Arizona and Vancouver, there are still tribal descendants who keep native traditions alive.

Q7:  How do you feel horror novels of the psychological variety parallel religion and its role in society?

A7:  Wow, that’s a heavy question. I hope I can do it justice. I write mostly supernatural and often include religious characters or mysteries based on religious history. Like worshipping an invisible God, supernatural horror explores the unknown. H.P. Lovecraft was a genius at creating horror stories based on mythos and otherworldly gods. Since my stories are battles between light and darkness, good and evil, they suggest that unseen forces exist behind all good and bad that happens in the world. Perhaps with free will, man is free to express his goodness and his dark side, influenced by his inner demons. Horror fiction gives us a place to pit those two sides of man against one another to see which prevails. Stories about heroes battling monsters date back thousands of years. Whether they are told in mythology or religious books, they serve as metaphors. Moral choices we must make. I think horror stories serve society in that they give us outlets to express our relationship with the unknown and all the complex emotions we have going on inside us. They help us in our search for deeper and greater meanings of our existence.   

Q8:  I know you loved comic books as a kid, is it still a guilty pleasure? If so, what comic books do you like today? What comic books inspired your imagination?

A8:  I did love comic books as a kid and read them well into my twenties. Big influences were Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, Aliens vs. Predator, The Thing, and some of Clive Barker’s comics. I’ve since outgrown reading comics for the most part and mainly read fiction and non-fiction. I do enjoy movies based on comic book heroes. I’m looking forward to seeing The Avengers this summer.

Q9:  My stove is heating up in the kitchen, what kind of cupcakes am I baking you?

A9:  How about chocolate cupcakes decorated with faces from the Monster Mash–Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, plus some ghosts, witches, and Jack-o-Lantern faces? Really, you can’t go wrong. I love all flavors of cake.

Q10:  What are some of the films that cross from entertainment and into the realm of literary genius?  Do you find that some of the best are usually stemmed from books?

A10:  I’ll mix in some recent movies with some of my classic favorites–Alien, The Exorcist, Prophecy, The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan, and more recently Black Swan, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Lord of the Rings. A lot of great movies stem from books. Occasionally a screenwriter pens a brilliant script like Pulp Fiction and The King’s Speech. I love movies that make you feel and make you think.

Back to serious questions…let’s talk about your novels…

Q11:  Dead of Winter has been out in e-book since October and now available in paperback as well. This was your first novel with new publisher Samhain, who launched their new horror line in October 2011. What’s the latest news on your debut novel, Shadows in the Mist, coming back into print?

A11:  My first novel, Shadows in the Mist, has had a successful journey so far. I originally self-published it back in 2006 in trade paperback. In 2007, it won a gold medal for Best Horror Novel in an international contest, and I got to go to New York to receive my medal. Then Berkley/Penguin bought the rights to it and re-released it in small paperback in 2008. In 2010, a German publisher released it in Austria and Germany under the title Schattenkrieger, where it is still selling today. After three years with Berkley, I got the rights back to Shadows in the Mist and signed a new book deal with Samhain Horror, who published Dead of Winter. This gave me an opportunity to revise Shadows in the Mist based on feedback I had gotten over the years from reviewers and fans. I’ve tightened up the opening chapters and even eliminated a few scenes to get to the World War II part of the book even faster. With Samhain Horror, I’m also getting to use the original blue cover that I designed with renowned artist Les Edwards back when I self-published the book. For those who haven’t read my first book, Shadows in the Mist will re-release as an e-book and trade paperback September 4th, 2012. The cover can be seen above and at my website http://www.BrianMoreland.com.

 Q12:  What is Shadows in the Mist about and what inspired you to write it?

 A12:  The historical novel is a supernatural thriller set in the foggy woods of Nazi Germany in World War II. After 60 years of silence, a secret pact between two war heroes is about to be broken. Buried beneath the blood stained soil of Germany lies a Nazi relic that could destroy armies if fallen into the wrong hands. Now the diary of WWII hero Jack Chambers is being delivered to the U.S. Army to reveal a dark conspiracy. This is the untold story. The real reason Jack Chambers’ entire platoon vanished in October, 1944.

The story opens in present day, when retired war hero Jack Chambers is an old man haunted by his past. The story flashes back to World War II where Lt. Chambers and his platoon are fighting the Germans inside the bloody Hürtgen Forest. As they cross enemy lines on a top-secret mission, the platoon comes across something supernatural that is killing both American and German soldiers. Lt. Chambers and a few survivors from his squad take refuge in an abandoned Catholic church in the woods and discover a Nazi bunker where occult-obsessed Nazis had unleashed something deadly into the woods. I won’t give away too much more of the premise. It’s all based on historical facts I uncovered about the Nazis and the occult and it blends the genres of war history, conspiracy theory, and supernatural horror. Some reviewers have described it as Band of Brothers meets The Da Vinci Code.

Q13: I know you mentioned to me that your grandfather inspired some of this novel based on his military service.  The story of your grandfather is so amazing.

A13:  Thanks. I believe that article tells the story best, so I’ll let readers click the link below to read my grandfather’s true story and watch clips from the documentary that I filmed. My grandfather was a real-life World War II hero who did inspire me to write Shadows in the Mist.  It was so freaky that after I wrote the book, he was contacted by a museum in France that had his C-47 airplane. There are scenes that happen in my novel that ended up happening in real life about three years after I released the book.

How wonderful for him to travel to France and be recognized there, honored as an US service man who helped to save France, and his (and your) experience, as he was reunited with his famous airplane after many years of thinking it lost. 

I’ve linked to an article and the photos on your blog that you wrote some year back: http://brianmoreland.blogspot.com/2008/08/war-hero-returns-to-normandy.html

 Q14:  Do you have any more novels in the works? I know many readers that loved Dead of Winter are itching for more from you. What say you??

 A14:  As I said earlier, I just completed The Devil’s Woods. My third horror novel is about a secret forest on a Cree Indian reservation up in British Columbia, Canada where a lot of strange things are happening and people are vanishing. This one has both ghosts and some really cool creatures. I don’t know why I keep setting my books in Canada. I guess because there are some places up there that are still isolated. Plus, I love the wilderness, and British Columbia is absolutely beautiful. The story starts out with an archeologist disappearing while on a mission inside the ancient forest. Then his two adult sons and daughter–all half Cree–return to the reservation in search of their Cree father. They begin to unravel the mystery behind all the disappearances and why their reservation is haunted. This novel has plenty of scares and ties in a lot of the Native American [First Nation] culture we discussed earlier.

My aim is to release The Devil’s Woods in 2013. For those who would like a sneak peek, here’s an excerpt of the opening chapter:

 SNEAK PEEK at THE DEVIL’S WOODS!!!!

=>>>>http://brianmoreland.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/excerpt-of-the-devils-woods-coming-2013-10-2/

 Q15:  What are your goals for 2012 and what do you want to accomplish?

 A15:  Well, first I’d like to finalize the book deal for The Devil’s Woods and get that one into production. I’ve got some local book signings lined up to promote Dead of Winter and in the fall I’ll have two books to promote with the release of Shadows in the Mist. It’s important to keep writing, so I plan to work on some short stories, a novella, and start my fourth novel, which at the moment I’m not sure what that will be. I will continue to study the craft of writing and read novels by other authors to sharpen my skills. I also plan to attend some horror cons and get out there and meet fans of horror.

 Q16:  Again, how can readers connect with you?

They can email me at Brian@BrianMoreland.com.

Friend me on Facebook by looking up Author Brian Moreland, and tweet me on Twitter @BrianMoreland.

My website is http://www.BrianMoreland.com.

I love meeting fellow book lovers and writers and welcome people contacting me. I also have a blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com where I post news and interviews.

 Brian, it is also so nice to have you come and visit with me. You’re an amazing writer and a super great fellow. I wish you continued success in your writing. Stop back soon!

 Thanks, Erin, I’ve enjoyed both interviews and appreciate all that you’ve done to help promote my books. I wish you lots of success with your own PR business and writing your own novels. Hopefully, one day I can sample some of those delicious cupcakes you’re always baking.

(Erin: Thanks for that Brian, I appreciate you!!)

Cheers, Brian
_______________________________________________________

Who is Brian Moreland?

I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I come from a large extended family from both West Texas near Lubbock and South Texas near San Antonio. I admit to having a pair of cowboy boots and enjoy two-steppin’ and spinning a lovely lady around the dance floor. I love football and am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. Since I graduated from U.T. Austin, I also bleed orange and root for the Texas Longhorns. Hook em’.

My writing journey began over twenty years ago when I started my first novel and wrote a few short stories. I studied creative writing and screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin.

I haven’t always been a professional writer. While living in Dallas, I spent several years working as a producer and film/video editor. I edited the documentary Band of Champions, as well as hundreds of corporate videos. I traveled to Iraq twice with the Tostitos and the USO to film TV commercials with the troops. My commercials played during the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, and the 2011 BSC Championship football game. One of my proudest accomplishments is a WWII documentary I produced about my grandfather.

I’ve lived most of my life in Texas. For an amazing year and a half, I got to live in Hawaii, on the tropical island of Maui and learned a lot about myself. Today, I’m back living in Dallas. I am writing my next horror novel and editing and designing books for other authors.

I also write a blog, Dark Lucidity, about the exciting and often bumpy career of writing for a living. I’m also an amateur photographer, so I like to include plenty of photos of my outdoor adventures.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors

Death Haunts Alister, Will it Haunt You? Check out Keith Rommel’s The Cursed Man.

Alister Kunkle has been in seclusion for 25 years in Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. He won’t look or speak to anyone, for fear it will fatally harm them. You see, Death takes a personal interest in anyone he communicates with and he is tired of watching this curse play out. He hides away in a small cell with no outside contact until Dr. Anna Lee shows up determined that her psychiatric skills can help cure Alister. Is she really what she seems? Is the curse real or a figment of his imagination? When I first agreed to read and review author Keith Rommel’s book The Cursed Man, the first stand alone novel in his Thanatology series, I told him that “a book having a character with the name of Alister (in any spelling) is on my ‘Top Ten Things that Make Me Want to Review a Book.” It was all in jest, but truly, isn’t that a name that just makes you want to read a suspense novel?

I’m glad that “Alister” led me to read the book because Rommel’s novel has left me haunted for a week now. It engaged so many thoughts in me about life and the universe forces surrounding us, that I must highly recommend this book if you are looking for a thrill ride of drama that will keep you guessing until the very end. It was a quick read for me; I read it in one night so as not to put off the ending and it was reminiscent of my favorite short stories of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. King has penned several stories playing around with the notion of Death, and Rommel’s story was just as good as the master of suspense. It was almost leaning toward having a Ted Dekker quality in its novel form, yet had a harder evil tone than Dekker’s final chapter finales. This time Death certainly is the serial killer and good might not win out.

The Cursed Man’s spooky quality and lingering aura could send chills up your spine deep into the night and keep you pondering about your mortality and the state of humanity. The writing quality was excellent and Rommel is certainly an author to watch if you like the horror suspense genre as much as I do. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, called The Lurking Man, sometime in 2012.

And speaking of The Lurking Man, guess what?!? Keith is having a CONTEST to name the female main character in his next upcoming book, The Lurking Man (second in the Thanatology series). Answer three questions on his site about The Cursed Man, then starting with a sentence he has given you, write a short story (300 words) utilizing the name you choose. There will be a voting period in which people will vote on the name for the book. To view all the details, please go to: http://keithrommel.weebly.com/contest.html.

I also had the pleasure to sneak into the mind of Keith Rommel with an exclusive interview below (after the giveaway information) in which he answers all my deep, comical, and intense questions with ease. Take a more comfortable seat, and read on; you won’t be disappointed.

GIVEAWAY

Keith has graciously agreed to GIVEAWAY, no strings attached, TWO copies of The Cursed Man, to two lucky readers of this blog! All you have to do is read the interview and in the comments of my blog, tell me what inspired you or what you learned or even just something you liked about it. You can also go to my facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin (friend request me if you need to)) and leave me a comment on my wall, or under the link posting for this particular blog, or you can go to Twitter and give me a mention at @ErinAlMehairi (www.twitter.com/ErinAlMehairi).

I appreciate my readers and so do the authors, so they love to giveaway books in hopes you’ll read them and spread the word. What have you got to lose? You’ve only got something to gain!!

INTERVIEW WITH KEITH ROMMEL

Hi Keith, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview to accompany my review of your novel The Cursed Man. Let’s dive right in to our Q and A on your well-written horror/suspense novel—the first stand-alone novel in your Thanatology series.

Q: First of all, I pride myself in being well read and educated, but I had to look up the meaning of Thanatology! I see it’s the study of death and dying and now see how it relates to your book. Your main character, Alister, has caught the interest of the entity called Death and dying surrounds him. I realize now that I don’t know much about this area since I completely avoid talking about Death because it scares me …well…to death! So the question is, how did you become interested in the storytelling of death and dying and why?

A: It is like a big blue elephant standing in the center of the room. You know it’s there, staring at you, but you don’t want to look at it or talk about it because if you do, you might get its attention. That is why I wrote about it.

(Erin comments: True, and it makes for a really good story too as being confronted or singled out by Death is certainly an eerie proposition!)

Q: How do you feel most people deal when confronted with the topic of death? Why are we so obsessed with birth and try to hide our feelings about death?

A: A little over two years ago, I found out my father was terminal with cancer ten days before my son was born. I was unclear how much time my father had left, but I knew his prognosis was not good. I clearly remember the confusion in my heart as I celebrated the birth of my son while I began to prepare myself for the worst. Dad passed about a month later and it brought me to a very dark place. For me it was a place of anger and sadness and it overshadowed the blessings I had in my life. The healing hand of time has worked wonders on me, but the void that was left behind is still there, raw and bothersome. But the joy of having my son and watching him grow is a Band-Aid given to me by God. Birth is a time for celebration, and death (in cases such as my own) is a private time to grieve and find understanding.

Q: What role do you feel that religion and God play in Thanatology? How do they play into your book?

A:  I purposely tried to keep the theme of religion obscure in The Cursed Man as I tried to challenge myself as a writer. I had a tendency to lean towards religion earlier in my writing career, but this time around I wanted to create something that did not have a clear villain like Satan or a powerful entity such as God. When you peel back all the complex layers of the plot, The Cursed Man is a story about a man and a firm belief that death shows him favor by allowing him to live. But yet, his price for such a gift is that everyone around him dies. Therefore, the theme of death was the presence that needed to remain on center stage.

(Erin comments: Yet, Death certainly is a powerful entity, isn’t it? We certainly feel its power, and to some degree the power of evil, in your book. I know I certainly felt it. I would explain more why, but I don’t want to spoil it for new readers.)

Q: What lessons of good and evil can we take away from The Cursed Man?

A: For me, the strongest lesson is given at the very end of the novel. Though I cannot go into what the details are because it would be a spoiler to the story, it is an event that is based off of a true story. I was standing in the kitchen at my grandmother’s house and I was in my late teens. My uncle was telling me a tragic story about a family friend and that story made such an impression on me I based The Cursed Man on it.

Q: What were your hopes when you set out to write a novel in the horror/suspense genre?

A: My hopes for writing The Cursed Man were very simple: if I gave someone an experience that they didn’t feel cheated after they plunked down some of their hard-earned money after they read my novel, then I had reached a certain level of satisfaction. For a long time, I believed in the story and worked very hard to get it to a professional level. I had agents show the story great interest, but never to a level of acceptance. I remember feeling confused and determined all at the same time. How could they not see what I saw? I’ll show them! And just when I was ready to give up and try my hand at self-publishing, the novel was picked up by Sunbury Press. They are a small press company, and when they offered to publish The Cursed Man, I remember the overwhelming joy. For days I walked around with a great big smile. Finally, someone saw the hard work I’d put into the book. Oh, and I recently received some emails from readers that have been nothing short of gratifying and inspiring. It has truly been a humbling experience.

Q: I know you like to read comic books, and so do we at our house. I’m curious, what part do you feel comic books play in both society and storytelling?

A: Comic books were introduced to me when a teacher suggested that I read them to help with a reading comprehension problem. I have read and collected comic books since I was in junior high and continue to do so today. Comic books are an important art form that suffers from a persona of being nerdy and uncool. Of course, I feel much differently about it and believe they can influence young people into the love and rewards of reading. Most movies that people are flocking to see are based off of comic book titles and they probably don’t even realize it. Without pointing out the obvious titles such as Superman and Batman, to name a few movies that come from the comic platform would be : The Crow, Men in Black, Cowboys & Aliens and Kick Ass.

The flow of storytelling is unique in the sense that it is done through both words and pictures. It makes for a quick and easy read, and the story usually comes out once a month and is a continuation from issue to issue. For parents that have children that don’t like to read, I suggest going to your local comic shop and picking them up a copy. There are plenty of titles to choose from, and it can actually be used as family time to open up discussions. Something that becomes quite addicting is going to the comic store every Wednesday to see what new books have hit the racks. You’ll be amazed by what you might find and how fun they really are.

Q: Now on to a little about you as an author: How do you work over 50 hours a week, commute, make time for your wife and 2 small children and EVER find time to write? What advice do you give others in the same situation?

A:  I believe if it is your passion and you are doing it for the right reasons, you will make and find the time. My formula is simple and I’m sure that countless other writers abide by it: get an hour less sleep tonight, or wake up a little earlier in the morning. Set a reasonable goal for yourself (maybe a word count per week) and try and write at least one paragraph a day.

Q:  Tell us about your writing process and what you’ve learned about yourself as a writer and also about the industry over the years.

A:  I have learned quite a bit over the years. The first and foremost thing is that I had to find my voice on paper and that has taken me a long time to accomplish. I often compare it to how a kid grows into a young adult, and years later, into a wiser, more mature adult. Some days my writing voice comes out easier than others, but I found it important that I no longer pressure myself to “get it done.” I write when I can and try to make time to do so. Small press and self-publishing is the new “in.” With social media sites and a well-written book, you will find a fan base. Set real expectations as to how many copies you think you are going to sell and study your craft. Join writing groups (I suggest Critique Circle, my handle is Krommel). There you won’t have your best friend telling you how great your stuff is. You’ll have writers (some of them very experienced) critiqing your work and giving you good, constructive feedback to help you learn and grow.

Q: Tell us a little about the man behind the scary story The Cursed Man.

A:  First, I am a husband and father of two. I have a passionate belief that hard work does pay off and that everyone should follow his or her dreams no matter how big or small. I did and will continue to do so whether I sell one book or a million. It is my passion and has been for years.

Q: What is next on the horizon for you?

A:  The response to The Cursed Man has been so positive that I want to stay focused on the Thanatology series. I am looking to release The Lurking Man sometime in spring of 2012, which is book 2 in the Thanatology series. I am then going to quickly follow it up with two more novels that explore different genres (Thriller, and religious fiction).

Q: Where can readers or other authors find Keith Rommel online, and how do they connect?

A:  I encourage readers and writers alike to contact me, whether they look me up through my website: http://keithrommel.weebly.com or through Goodreads.com, Librarything.com and of course Twitter (@keithrommel). If you follow me on Twitter, I always follow back (it’s just good karma).

Thank you, Keith, for the exciting new book and for answering my interview questions. It has been a pleasure to connect with you. Best wishes in all your continued work.

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